Canine Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation

Canine physical therapy is a burgeoning subfield within veterinary medicine. Like human physical therapy and rehabilitation programs, therapies aimed at dogs are designed to help speed up your pet's recovery time following an injury or disease. They are also intended to help ensure that your pet heals properly and that he does not suffer any additional or complicating injuries during the natural healing process. They provide both immediate and long-term assistance to dogs suffering from a wide variety of ailments and medical conditions.

When Is Physical Therapy Appropriate?

Whether your pet has suffered a disease that has limited his mobility or if he has recently gone through a surgery of some kind, it is likely that he will have a period of recovery during which his normal movement and behavior will be somewhat curtailed. With the help of physical therapy, you can healthily reintroduce movements and other actions into your pet's daily life in order to stimulate his recovery and increase his immediate flexibility.

Goals and Methods of Physical Therapy in Dogs

Physical therapy and rehabilitation programs for dogs are designed to primarily relieve pain and discomfort associated with illnesses and injuries and to speed up the recuperation period following these conditions. On top of these primary goals, physical therapy may be helpful at increasing overall fitness, adding to flexibility and mobility, losing weight, preventing future injury and gaining muscles mass and function.

There are a wide variety of techniques commonly incorporated into physical therapy programs that are intended to help realize these goals. One of the most common methods used is a combination of stretching and hot and cold presses that loosen the muscles and ease tension. Pain and discomfort can build up in your pet's body because of tension throughout a number of different muscles, and these techniques can help to relax your pet and increase his mobility while simultaneously reducing pain.

Walking and running exercises, either freestanding or on a treadmill, can help an immobile dog regain some of his capacities. The specific drills that will be helpful for your dog depend entirely upon his existing health conditions and his injuries.

Physical therapy may also involve a combination of other types of treatments, including electrotherapy and hydrotherapy. These methods are used to ease pain in non-traditional ways and may be best for dogs that are severely disabled or injured.

Selecting Physical Therapy for Your Pet

Typically, physical therapists that work with animals will have unique practices and facilities. Only very rarely will a veterinarian be involved directly with a physical therapist. However, your vet can help to recommend whether your pet can benefit from a physical therapy regime, and may have advice as to which type or which specific therapist may work best. Under no circumstance, however, should physical therapy be substituted for a medical treatment plan involving a drug regime or surgery. Physical therapy is designed to aid in standard medicine procedures to heal your pet, not to compensate entirely for those methods.